Monday, August 12, 2013

Healing: The Heart

We continue the 'healing' thread. This week: healing the heart.

Following is a short and very helpful 4 lines by Thomas Keating, the godfather of a resurgence of Contemplative Prayer in North America. And a longer section from Jack Kornfield's A Path with Heart.

In this section JK quotes a wonderful poem by Windell Berry, I Go Among Trees and Sit Still. I've added a stanza that was left out.

I find all of this very helpful, but also deeply intuitive. I had to read WB's poem 5 times before I could even begin to absorb who was scared of what, etc.

Yet these re-readings were wonderfully rewarded--a growing understanding began to light up some of the typical stuff that troubles me, body and soul.

I wish the same light for you.

   The mind deceives.
   The body never lies.
   Listen to the wisdom of your body.
   Hear its truth. --Fr.Thomas Keating

Just as we open and heal the body by sensing its rhythms and touching it with a deep and kind attention, so we can open and heal other dimensions of our being. The heart and the feelings go through a similar process of healing... Most often, opening the heart begins by opening to a lifetime's accumulation of unacknowledged sorrow.

As we heal through meditation, our hearts break open to feel fully. Powerful feelings, deep unspoken parts of ourselves arise, and our task in meditation is first to let them move through us, then to recognize them and allow them to speak. A poem by Windell Berry illustrates this beautifully.

   I go among trees and sit still...
   Then what is afraid of me comes
   and lives a while in my sight.
   What it fears in me leaves me,
   and the fear of me leaves it.
   It sings, and I hear its song.

   Then what I am afraid of comes.
   I live for a while in its sight.
   What I fear in it leaves it,
   and the fear of it leaves me.
   It sings, and I hear its song.

   After days of labor,
   mute in my consternations,
   I hear my song at last,
   and I sing it. As we sing,
   the day turns, the trees move.

In truly listening to our most painful songs, we can learn the divine art of forgiveness; both forgiveness and compassion arise spontaneously with the opening of the heart. Somehow, in feeling our own pain and sorrow, our own ocean of tears, we come to know that ours is a shared pain and that the mystery and beauty and pain of life cannot be separated. This universal pain, too, is part of our connection with one another, and in the face of it we cannot withhold our love any longer.  --Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart